November 2, 2007

Clarkson Leads ECAC Hockey League Field

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If last season was any indication — when fewer than 18 points separated regular season champion St. Lawrence and last place Union — the ECAC Hockey League will be full of dramatically close calls in 2007-08. Though St. Lawrence is motivated to prove last year’s success wasn’t a fluke, Clarkson is looking like the team of destiny this year. A championship rematch between Clarkson and Quinnipiac could definitely be in the ECAC Hockey League’s future. On the other hand, Cornell has something to prove going into competition for that long-coveted ECAC Hockey League crown.

Colgate Raiders
2006-07: 15-21-4, 7-12-3 ECAC Hockey League

After its regular season championship in the 2005-06 season, Colgate came into last year as the clear frontrunner to win it all but fizzled into a tie for 8th place. Captain Jesse Winchester (16 goals, 21 assists) and Tyler Burton (18, 22) are returning along with all-ECAC Hockey League goaltender Mark Dekanich (.923 save percentage, 2.33 goals against average). The three seniors form the core of a Raiders squad that will look to redeem itself from last year’s underperformance.

Dartmouth Green
2006-07: 18-12-3, 12-7-3

With more minutes last season than any other ECAC Hockey League goaltender, Mike Devine (.915 save percentage, 2.65 goals against average) is the definition of dependable. The Green will need that stable presence after losing six key players to graduation or early departure, including first team All-American David Jones and T.J. Galiardi, who was second on the team with 14 goals last season as a freshman. Aside from Devine, there are only two other seniors on the roster, and both are forwards.

Clarkson Knights
2006-07: 25-9-5, ­13-5-4

Clarkson is the clear pre-season poll favorite coming off a banner year for the program. The team was last year’s ECAC Hockey League champion after finishing second to St. Lawrence in the regular season. Nevertheless, the Knights will be hungry for more this year with the sting of a first round NCAA playoff exit still fresh in their minds. Senior captain Nick Dodge (18 goals, 21 assists) will lead a high-scoring offense and last year’s ECAC Hockey League Goaltender of the Year senior David Leggio (.930 save percentage, 2.16 goals against average), returns to man the goal one last year for the Knights.

Cornell Red
2005-06: 14-13-4, 10-8-4

See pages 3-5 for an analysis of this year’s team.

Quinnipiac Bobcats
2006-07: 21-14-5, 10-8-4

The Bobcats upset the Red at Lynah Rink in the playoffs last year but eventually lost a heartbreaker to Clarkson in the final. Quinnipiac led the league in scoring last year, with co-Rookie of the Year Brandon Wong paving the way with his league-leading 14 goals in conference play. The Bobcats boast a solid presence in the net with junior Bud Fisher (.903 save percentage, 2.52 goals against average), though the defense lost All-American Reid Cashman.

Harvard Crimson
2006-07: 14-17-2, 10-10-2

Though seniors Mike Taylor (10 goals, 11 assists) and Alex Meintel (14 goals, 19 assists) are the only forwards returning with significant goal-scoring credentials, the Crimson showed flashes of dominance last year on the way to a .500 conference record. Harvard led the ECAC Hockey League in power play production at 20.5 percent. Sophomore defenseman Alex Biega had a hand in that success, leading the freshmen defenders with 18 points.

St. Lawrence Saints
2006-07: 23-14-2, 16-5-1

The reigning ECAC Hockey League regular season champion Saints combine a winning tradition with gutsy adaptability. Head coach Joe Marsh is entering his 23rd season, the longest term among ECAC Hockey League coaches. Though the defense under ECAC Hockey Player of the Year Drew Bagnall was dominant on the penalty kill last year, the departure of Bagnall and ECAC Hockey League Defensive Forward of the Year Kyle Rank leaves sophomore goaltender Alex Petizian (.916 save percentage, 2.29 goals against average) to lead the Saints back to the NCAAs.

Union Dutchmen
2006-07: 14-19-3, 17-14-1

Union has unanimously been de­posited in last place by preseason polls. After glancing at a recap of the 2006-07 season, the reasoning is clear. The Dutchmen were last in the league and ranked last or near last in almost every statistical category. Leading scorer T.J. Fox jumped ship for the NHL after his sophomore season. Union, however, has depth that should not be underestimated — the Dutchmen know how to share the wealth. The team has no one superstar but will rely on a number of experienced returning players, including Josh Coyle (14 goals, 17 assists), Matt Cook (12, 14), Mario Valery-Trabucco (12, 11), Jason Walters (8, 19) and the list goes on.

Rensselaer Engineers
2006-07: 10-18-8, 6-11-5

Depth on defense will be Rensselaer’s main concern this year as the entire defensive group consists of three freshmen and sophomores Peter Merth, Erik Burg­doerfer and Chris Jensen. Last season, senior Kirk Mac­Donald was the only Engineer with over ten goals. With so many underclassmen on this year’s roster, the team may again be forced to depend on one player, either junior Andrei Uryadov or classmate Seth Klerer, the only returning players with over 20 points last season.

Princeton Tigers
2006-07: 15-16-3, 10-10-2

The good news for the Tigers is that the team finally reached .500 last season, improving from an 7-12-3 ECACHL record the year before. Princeton hockey could be compared more to a tortoise than a tiger — slow and steady wins the race. Though leading scorer Lee Jubinville (11 goals, 18 assists) is returning, Princeton lost 10 letterwinners from last year, including key forwards Darroll Powe (13, 15) and Grant Goeckner-Zoeller (eight, 18). Sophomore goaltender Zane Kalemba will have to improve on last year’s .891 save percentage and 2.89 goals against average if the Tigers want to make some noise in the ECAC Hockey League.

Yale Bulldogs
2006-07: 11-17-3, 8-13-1

The Bulldogs are growing up together. Like the Red, the Yale squad features a youth movement centered around sophomores Mark Arcobello (10 goals, 14 assists), Chris Cahill (eight, nine) and Sean Backman (18, 13), who had a particularly successful rookie season last year with the second-highest goal total of the freshmen. Second-year coach Keith Allain will hope that his sophomores and eight freshmen can create more offense this year.

Brown Bears
2006-07: 11-15-6,
6-12-4 ECACHL

Now a senior, leading scorer Jeff Prough (16 goals, 17 assists) returns along with 20 other players, including offensively-minded defenseman Sean Hurley (10, 14). The Bears ranked among the middle of the pack in scoring last year and lost nine games by one goal, so offensive production will be a focus this season.